Transport causing all sorts of problems for Cameron
What has George Osborne, Andrew Mitchell, Cheryl Gillan, Justine Greening and even Chris Hulme have in common apart from being members, or were former members of the Cabinet? All have caused controversy relating to transport.
Transport is normally such a dull subject for political commentators, often only gaining column inches or a main news bulletin when RMT’s Bob Crow calls for a strike or when the train ticket prices go up significant after the New Year. However the spotlight has been on transport and given the commentators several main headlines as well as juicy gossip. Whether it has been about rail, bicycles or airplanes in the news, all have caused problems for the Prime Minister. From the trivial to the serious, David Cameron has had to deal with such issues.
From his Chancellor failing to get the correct rail ticket to his former Chief Whip; Andrew Mitchell with the bicycle debacle, transport related news has not treated Cameron too kindly. This is without mentioning the HS2 issue which Tory backbenchers despise to the other big elephants in the room; the West Coast mainline fiasco and the much talked about future air travel capacity. On HS2, several key Tory figures publicly opposed the decision, with many local Conservative associations bitterly angry at the Tory leadership. On the West Coast mainline mess, within days of Cameron newly appointing Patrick Mcloughlin as Transport Secretary, he had to go out and apologise to Richard Branson, the Virgin boss and admit that the rail franchise process was flawed. This is without uttering the name of Boris Johnson, who seems to be a thorn in the side of government and especially Cameron personally over airport expansion and his obsession with his so called ‘Boris Island’.
The Transport department brief which is often seen inside Whitehall as a boring department has given the government headaches after headaches. Several past and current members of the Cabinet whether it was Justine Greening, Cheryl Gillan and even the Liberal Democrat Chris Hulme have not only caused headaches but often migraines for Cameron. Cameron tried to defuse the situation by moving figures around government. Justine had to be moved to another department due to her well known stance on Heathrow expansion, Cheryl got the sack probably due to HS2 views meanwhile Hulme is still facing a prosecution for perverting the course of justice, allegedly pressurising his former wife to take his driving licence penalty points on his behalf.
From trivial to the serious, transport stories whether associated with the transport department or not, David Cameron seems cursed with problems and bad stories. With the snow season starting already in several parts of the country and with the run up to the Christmas holidays and the bad weather undoubtedly going to set in, I am sure Cameron has not seen the last of his transport related problems.